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Saying Goodbye with Dignity and Honor

September 5, 2011

Saying Goodbye with Dignity and Honor

Labor Day weekend is the occasion of the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon.   For forty-six years it had been hosted by Jerry Lewis, who also served as chairman.  This year, the MDA abruptly switched formats and Jerry Lewis was out.  Over the years, he helped MDA raise over $1 billion.  His unceremonious “retirement” made me think about how we say goodbye to people, and how we can do so with dignity and honor.

Jerry Lewis is a comedian with a big heart.  How could MDA have handled this better, with a heart equally as big?  It could have said farewell by honoring him, bringing back guests who have joined him on the telethon, and offered testimonials recognizing his enduring commitment and contributions.  Instead the new hosts, absent Lewis, offered a couple platitudes.

How do you say goodbye to people?  What do you do when a relationship is over or has run its course and you wish to make a change?   Is it filed with acrimony?  Are people hurt?  Is it done with sensitivity?  Is the relationship and what it meant over time honored?  Or is it dismissed?  How we say goodbye says a lot about who we are and our values.

How do organizations with which you may be associated say goodbye?  For example, when someone is laid-off, a contract not renewed, or a major change is made.  What values does it display?  It may be true that nobody is indispensible, but how we treat them at the end can leave a lasting, sometimes stinging impression.  How we say goodbye speaks volumes about us.

Our times are difficult enough that we need not add indignity and unnecessary pain to what may by its nature be a hurtful situation or decision.

When you feel compelled or need to, how can you say goodbye to people in a way that demonstrates respect and dignity, and preserves their sense of self-worth?

Steve Weitzenkorn

Take the FREE Guiding Values Exercise.

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One Comment leave one →
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